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ND Volleyball: Irish beat Miami, lose to Florida State in tournament

Laura Myers | Monday, September 21, 2009

It was a long weekend for the Irish.

Notre Dame (6-4) made the trek to Tallahassee for the Florida State Tri-Tournament, where the team won a 3-2 decision over Miami (Fla.) Saturday and lost 2-3 to No. 19 Florida State Sunday.

The matches were the first two of the season in which the Irish had to play all five sets.

Irish coach Debbie Brown said her team fought hard in both games even though they dropped the second contest.

“Overall it was good,” Brown said. “Obviously we have pretty high goals and expectations … we wanted to come back winning both matches.”

The Irish dropped the first two sets (17-25, 23-25) against Miami (7-4) before taking the last three (25-21, 25-15, 15-13).

Notre Dame was down 9-5 in the third set before scoring four straight to tie it up. They continued to trade points and the lead with the Hurricanes before pulling ahead to win the crucial set.

“I think the team showed great character in coming back after being down 0-2,” Brown said. “We played better in sets three, four and five. That was huge. And Miami cooled down as well.”

Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips had 18 kills in Saturday’s match. Junior outside hitter Kellie Sciacca and sophomore outside hitter Kristen Dealy followed with 14 kills each.

Phillips, Dealy, senior setter Jamel Nicholas and freshman libero Christina Theofilos each contributed two service aces, and the Irish totaled a season-high 11 service aces on the day.

The Irish and Seminoles (10-1) traded sets Sunday before the Seminoles ultimately pulled ahead (19-25, 25-17, 18-25, 26-24, 16-14).

“I think we’re all pretty disappointed,” Brown said. “We don’t have the opportunity to play a lot of Top-20 teams, Florida State is No. 19 and we wanted to do well against them, but at the same time we did a lot of really, really good things and played at a high level.”

The Irish won two of the first three sets and looked ready to take the fourth, leading 17-12 at one point, but the Seminoles climbed back in thanks to several Notre Dame attack errors and two straight kills by Stephanie Neville. Florida State tied it up at 20-20 and won the close contest 26-24.

“The irony is we didn’t play our best [Saturday] and came out then with a win,” Brown said. “[Sunday] I thought we played really well and ended up with a loss.”

Dealy had a career-high 21 kills Sunday, barely beating Phillips who had another great day with 19 kills.

The Florida State Tournament was the last invitational for Notre Dame, which will enter Big East play next weekend at Connecticut and St. John’s.

Brown said she thinks the difficult schedule the team faced early in the season will help with conference play.

“I think we’ve put ourselves in a really good position for the Big East,” Brown said. “We’re going to keep improving, getting better and better. The schedule we’ve played has prepared us very well.”

Notre Dame will play at Connecticut at 7:00 p.m. Friday and at St. John’s at 2:00 p.m. Sunday.